Dubai: Based on the directives of Dubai’s Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management, Dubai Sports Council has announced the reopening of swimming pools and water sports activities in the Emirate of Dubai.
Dubai Sports Council has issued a detailed list of conditions, developed in cooperation with relevant authorities, that need to be met by aquatic centres, academies, and swimming pools to resume operations.
The reopening mandate, however, is limited only to hotel establishments, health clubs/gym facilities, recreation clubs, and residential and commercial facilities. Social gatherings, parties and events are still barred and excluded from the resumption order, along with massage services, spa, sauna, jacuzzi and pool bars.
All swimming academies and aquatic sports centres who have a license in the field of aquatic sports and want to resume their activities, must obtain the approval of Dubai Sports Council by registering through the link: www.dubaisc.ae/sportspermitundercovid19
Prior to reopening, all swimming pools in the permitted category will have to undergo deep cleaning to minimise the risk of water-borne diseases and the facilities will also need to get a water quality test done.
On reopening, the facilities will have to make sure they maintain the hygiene and sanitization requirements as per Dubai Municipality guidelines, which includes maintaining a regular cleaning regime, water testing, and maintaining the chlorine concentration.
They are also required to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and common areas at least once every hour and shared objects each time they are used (handrails, lounge chairs, tabletops, pool noodles, kickboards, poolside showers, etc.). The facilities will also have to make sure visitors and pool users maintain safe and desirable etiquette before and during swimming, which means no spitting in the pool, washing their hands more often, covering their sneeze and coughs, and showering – in the side pool showers only – before and after using the swimming pool.
Shower facilities, lockers and changing rooms are permitted, conditional that cleaning and sanitization is performed after every use, or at a minimum of once every hour, and social distancing must be maintained at all times. If the operators are unable to maintain the strict cleaning and sanitization regimes, and social distancing rules then these facilities must be closed.
The facilities are not permitted to provide towels – visitors and guests must bring their own – and sunbeds must be covered with an extra layer of linen, which should be removed and replaced by new linen after every use. The linen will be provided by the operator and sunbeds should be fully sanitized after every use.
The facilities will also have to install touchless hand sanitizers in all the common areas and ensure that ventilation/cooling and air conditioning system for indoor spaces operate properly with an adequate intake of fresh air.
The guidelines urge people to refrain from sharing items that are difficult to clean, sanitize, or disinfect or that are meant to come in contact with the face – for example, goggles, nose clips, and snorkels – and discourage people from sharing items such as food, equipment, toys, and supplies with guests from other households.
The facilities will have to make sure they provide adequate equipment for patrons and swimmers, such as kickboards and pool noodles, to minimize sharing to the extent possible, or limiting use of equipment by one group of users at a time and cleaning and disinfecting between use. Operators unable to maintain the strict cleaning regimes, must not provide this equipment.
The operators will also need to provide all their staff with training on safety, hygiene and social distancing protocols, and all staff and guests/visitors/trainers must go through temperature screening before entering the pool. Anyone with a temperature equal to or more than 37.5˚C should not be allowed to enter the pool.
Guests and visitors with underlying medical conditions, respiratory illness, or chronic diseases must also not enter the swimming pool area.
The protocols also stipulate that all swimming pools and public aquatic venues administration must dedicate an isolation room, and set procedures to handle COVID-19 suspect/confirmed cases as per Dubai Health Authority guidelines. If the swimming pool is within a facility that has isolation room, then the current isolation room is sufficient.
Visitors and pool users should maintain 2m social distancing at all times, both inside and outside the pool. Members of a single group – up to 5 members – can be seated together, while maintaining 4m social distancing between two groups.
Other stipulations state that sun-beds should be placed at a minimum distance of 2m between single people and 4m between groups of people, and the operators should maintain capacity in the pool to 1 person per 4 square meters. The capacity signage should be placed at the entrance.
The pool staff will have to observe at all times the 2m distancing between pool users/guests/visitors, while parents/minders/carers/coaches are responsible and accountable for their children’s behaviour in the pool area. Children must be supervised by an adult at all times to ensure social distancing in their designated pool.
Pool staff, trainers and visitors must wear a face shield or mask at all times but shall remove it during the activity which requires body and face submersion, i.e. during swimming sessions inside the pool, when a coach is demonstrating techniques.